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iCloud rival Proton Drive gets iOS app; uses end-to-end encryption

Proton Drive, a Dropbox and iCloud rival, has today launched iOS and Android apps for both free and paid cloud storage tiers.

As you’d expect from the company that launched an encrypted email service, Proton Mail, the emphasis is on privacy and security


Proton is best known for its secure email app. By default, email is completely unencrypted. It is sent from server to server in plain text form, and could potentially be read by anyone with access to any of the points through which it passes en-route to the recipient.

One way around this is to use the PGP (Pretty Good Privacy) encryption protocol. Doing this with most email clients is quite clunky, so Proton created Proton Mail to integrate PGP and other encryption standards into the email client. Originally launched as a web app in 2013, a ProtonMail iOS app launched in 2016. The following year, a bridge app was launched to add similarly easy encryption to Apple Mail.

Proton Drive is a more secure iCloud rival

Unsurprisingly, privacy is the key message with its cloud storage service too. Proton Drive offers a cloud storage service with end-to-end encryption (E2EE). This means that files are encrypted on your device before they are uploaded, so that not even Proton can decrypt them.

End-to-end encryption ensures that no one, not even us, can access your files. Files, file names, folder names, and more, are all fully encrypted at rest and in transit to the secure cloud.

Proton is based in Switzerland, and your files are protected by Swiss privacy laws, which are among the strictest in the world.

We believe in trust through transparency. Proton Drive is open source, so anyone can verify that our encrypted cloud storage works as described. Proton Drive is also routinely audited for privacy and security by independent third-party experts.

This contrasts with rival services like Dropbox and iCloud, which currently only encrypt files at rest. This means that files are uploaded from your device in unencrypted form, and then encrypted by the server. In this situation, the cloud storage company knows the encryption key, and has the capability to decrypt your files. This is how Apple has been able to allow law enforcement access to iCloud backups of iPhones, on receipt of a court order. It also creates risks of glitches exposing user data.

(Dropbox has announced plans for a switch to E2EE, at least for business users, and Apple says it has similar plans for iCloud, though progress has been extremely slow.)

iCloud and Android app

The Verge reports that Proton has today launched iOS and Android Proton Drive apps, which allow you to sync and access files from your phone.

Proton, a privacy startup best known for its Proton Mail encrypted email service, has just announced that its end-to-end encrypted cloud storage service is available starting today as an Android and iOS app. Proton Drive is available in both free and paid tiers, offering users a way to securely upload, store, and share files directly from their mobile devices.

Proton Drive does offer a free tier, but it’s even less generous than Apple, at just 1GB. You can get 200GB for $4.99/month, or 500GB for $11.99/month – with discounts for one- and two-year plans, bringing pricing down to as little as $3.49 and $7.99 per month.

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